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Absentee voting and mail-in ballots will play a significantly larger role in this year’s election. Whether a national mail-in voting program is put in place or not, the number of people requesting absentee ballots is skyrocketing. In North Carolina, for example, absentee requests are up more than 950% so far. In 2016, 3,900 voters had requested absentee ballots by August. This year, that number is nearly 42,000. If we end up with universal mail-in voting, it changes the game.

Either way, the timing of your messaging will be different in this election cycle.

It may also create an opportunity to utilize direct mail to educate voters on how the mail-in ballot process works. This can be messaging that draws voters’ attention to your campaign.

Political Direct Mail Effectiveness in 2020

If you’re thinking direct mail is less effective in today’s environment, think again. Besides TV, more money was spent in direct mail in the last election cycle than any other place. Why? It works.

Political direct mail is also effective because of the ability to target in so many ways: homeownership, income levels, political affiliation, and more. Compared to television, it’s incredibly affordable. From a budget standpoint, you can get more bang for your buck with less waste. It’s also easier to make fast changes to react to events or developments:  just swap out a few words and send out a new batch.

Mail-In Ballots

COVID-19 and potential mail-in ballot voting will significantly change the political environment in 2020.  There will be more absentee ballots and early voting as people are concerned about going to polling places and putting their health at risk. This extends the critical messaging time for campaigns. If voting by mail happens in certain states or even on a national scale, this will require a change in strategy. Extending your traditional media buys for an additional length of time to target both early voters and last-minute decision-makers can get expensive.

With direct mail, you can target your ad spending with more precision. Some states and counties make ballot request dates and return data available. This helps campaigns make decisions about mailing campaigns. You might, for example, want to create a different message to educate first-time voters using absentee or mail-in ballots. You can target voters that have requested ballots but not returned them yet.  And, once someone has returned their ballot, you can take them off your mailing lists, which can cut down on waste.

Best Practices for Effective Direct Mail Campaigns

The political direct mail team at United Mail has handled several nationwide presidential campaigns, coordinating fulfillment on everything from bumper stickers and hats to mousepads and more. Here are eight of the best practices for political direct mail we’ve seen for the most effective campaigns:

  1. Establish a clear message that is easy to understand.
  2. Showcase how your message contrasts with your opponent’s message.
  3. Insert emotion — voters respond and remember emotional emotions more than facts and figures.
  4. Realize your design also sends important image messages.
  5. Take care with your photos and images — use only high-quality images.
  6. Show the candidate — people want to see who they’re voting for — and make sure any photos reflect the message and image you’re portraying.
  7. Be consistent. If you have several mailers or other media campaigns, you should use consistent campaigning messaging, colors, designs and themes.

It’s important you tailor your design and messaging to your targeted audience. There’s a significant difference in the messaging you want to use to target the four voter profiles:

  • Party loyalists: The challenge is to get party supporters to the polls (but only if they’re loyal to your party).
  • Instinct-driven voters: Some voters make decisions based on intuition. They can be influenced by individuals, candidates or endorsements from people they trust.
  • Issue-driven voters:  This group will pick one or two issues that are most important to them and ignore almost anything else. If you don’t present them with a stand on a key issue, you’re missing an opportunity.
  • The undecided voter: Swing voters are actively seeking information to make a decision. They’re more likely to want to compare and contrast candidates and issues.

Take advantage of targeting to find the potential voters that are most likely to be receptive to your message. This can reduce your expenses by eliminating wasteful spending on people who aren’t going to vote or have already made up their minds. United Mail has access to voter registrations for efficient targeting.

Clean, Simple and Direct

While you want to create something unique and eye-catching, the best political postcards, mailers and letters avoid cluttered design. You want a clean, professional look with bold and easy-to-read fonts. Limit the amount of text to keep readers focused on the key points and messaging. Make it easy for them to quickly see who you are, what you stand for, and what’s important to you as a candidate.

Some of the best political direct mail examples are clean, simple and direct — they can be scanned in a few seconds to deliver an impactful message.

Whether you are a candidate or you’re representing one, political direct mail is a key part of your strategy this election cycle. Seize the chance to educate voters in a new election process and get your message out. Contact United Mail today to help build a more effective political direct mail campaign.